Beast of Burden

By John Blodgett, vice president of sales and marketing, MacKay & Company

I like when people get creative with vehicles, cutting and welding to make unique mobile machines. One of the side pleasures of work-ing in the trucking industry is occasion-ally seeing vehicles that people have built—typically for no other reason than just for fun. This would include vehicles like Class 8 pickup trucks, tractors with three bedrooms/two bath sleepers, monster trucks that climb over any-thing, but also Freightliner’s Evolution Truck (certainly not just for fun).

Last month I decided to work from our family cottage on Cayuga Lake in N.Y. and one night while there I headed down to the village of Aurora for dinner. On the way, I saw a large house boat in front of an automotive repair garage. I had seen it before (kind of hard to miss at 32 ft. long) and wondered what they were doing to it.

This time, I noticed some big farm vehicle tires resting against the side of the house boat, which intrigued me even more. I also noticed that the tires were not just resting against the side of the house boat, they were being mount-ed on the front of the boat. Also, on the back of the boat there was a third tire mounted with a bracket that pivoted to steer this massive vehicle.

I inquired about this vehicle to a man who was welding in the hull of the boat. This man, Theon Parseghian (owner of Theonomics), is the mad scientist behind this planned amphibious house-boat called Beast of Burden. This young man creates all sorts of unique vehicles in his spare time. If you are from this area you may have seen his picnic table boat with a beer keg fuel tank or his amphibious Volvo station wagon or his Ford Fiesta with the Camaro engine that did incredible front wheel burn outs.

Quite often we hear that young people don’t want to work on trucks or off-highway equipment — that they don’t want to get dirty. Theon seems to relish this type of fun (I don’t think he considers it work).

The current project is another “you gotta have fun” project for Theon. He bought the boat with plans to scrap it after he figured out there was too much rust in the hull, but then at some point he decided it would make an incredible amphibious boat. (He lives 500 ft. from the lake so why not?)

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Beast of Burden had to have the entire interior removed, and most of the hull. Theon then bought an old three-wheel Big A sprayer. The sprayer provided the engine (CAT 3208), transmission (Allison Automatic), tires, and axle (some wheel-end extenders had to be added) needed to get power to the road. With some additional parts from the salvage yard, the boat/truck was redesigned to fi t these new additions. Some old frame rails from a bus are used to hold the driveline in place. To have the boat move on water, a new dual prop system was put in with the help of a couple bush hog mowers donating some parts.

He is getting close to a launching. He needs to finish up some odds and ends and wants to sand blast and paint Beast of Burden, but he is hopeful that in a few weeks she will be in the water. There are some concerns as to how it will work in the water, although Theon is fairly confident that it won’t sink.

Theon’s ulitimate goal would be to traverse across the middle of each of the five main finger lakes. If you want to get a better visual on this beast and others Theon has created, search for Theon-omics on YouTube, hopefully there will soon be a successful Beast of Burden launch video. I can’t wait to see what he builds next.

John Blodgett has worked for MacKay & Company for more than 20 years and is currently vice president of sales and marketing, responsible for client contact for single and multi-client projects. He can be reached at john.blodgett@mackayco.com.

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